Well…recently I have been making you all suffer my attempts at flash-fiction. Here is another short story – well a kind of story.
This one is based on the picture below which was the prompt given to for me and two other bloggers who were tagged for the TELL THE STORY Challenge by rugby843 – The Bag Lady, as you can see from her post below:
Hand in hand we walk along, every now and then he will pause so he can kiss me.
But then something will catch his eye. He loves to see the foxes. There are many foxes in London. There are always foxes lurking on the drive-way. At this time of year they make disturbing noises. Someone told me they are courting and this time of year, and those awful shrieking calls have something to do with mating. He does not care if they make disturbing noises. He is always so excited to see them.
I could tell him about the villagers out in the countryside who kept chickens. They were not at all fond of the foxes. I have seen with my own eyes what foxes have done to a chicken coupe. He does not want to know about how cross the country folk are with the foxes when they get at their chickens. He is always so excited to see them.
Sometimes, as I am gazing at the man I am in love with, I see a little boy, who would love to have the life of a fox. He is envious of the kind of freedom a fox enjoys. He wants to wander and roam like a fox. He is just a little boy at heart who does not want to fully grow up. On the look out for the sign of a fox he feels akin to. He is always so excited to see them.
So here is the photo that I am choosing as a prompt for three other bloggers.
Please forgive me if you have already been nominated by other bloggers for these TELL THE STORY Challenges and want to have a break from them. But I shall tag three very lovely bloggers and leave it to you to decide if you feel inspired by this photo:
Here is my story (based on the photo directly under the title):
The Scary Supervisor
There was once a colleague of mine who was quite brilliant at her work. She had a fantastic understanding of her job and how the whole company worked. She always knew who to speak to and where to look to find answers. She was highly intelligent and was able to demolish stacks of work in her in-tray due to her untiring work ethic. There was no faulting her actual work.
However…(when you read that word “however”, you must realize that there is going to be trouble ahead)…she was made a supervisor. She may have seemed to be suitable for the role, after all, her work was excellent. But you never know with people. They may be very good at their work, but they might turn out to be completely ineffective in their role of supervising a team.
Her first task was to conduct interviews for the two administrators that would initially make up her team. One candidate she chose based on her being a relative of her best friend. The other candidate she chose based on his smart appearance and the impressive way he communicated at the interview, and his previous work experience and glowing references.
(As soon as I saw him, I recognised him – I gate-crashed his wedding, but that is a completely different story – he did not know me.)
So, on his first day, the supervisor trained him in how to perform the job. She seemed to be pleased with him. As time went on, issues arose. Some were due to his being new in that role. Every now and then he would have a question to ask because he was unsure about an aspect of the work, or he had forgotten something she had mentioned on that first day. She became impatient and irritable. Why should she have to repeat herself – what was the matter with him? She viewed him as an annoyance because his questions and requests for clarification slowed her down from getting on with her own work.
Then there was the computer software that was used. The system kept on crashing. That meant that until the IT department could resolve the software issues and get the system back up and running, he could not perform the tasks she had hired him to carry out. The way she treated him every time the system crashed seemed to manifest a suspicion that he had caused the computer software to malfunction. Rather than providing other work, she told him to keep ringing IT to demand they sort out the software urgently. Oh the IT department loved that! He must have been in nervous knots everytime the software crashed, when he knew the reaction he would receive from her.
She became more and more hot-tempered with the new administrator. He began to look unhappy. Although I sat on the other side of the open offices and worked within a different department, I observed what was happening, I could hear the conversations between them. I also heard her grumbling about him when he was away from his desk. She was watching his every mistake and I could see her hatching a plan to get rid of him. Just like that cat up at the top watching the goldfish. She was scary! She was incredibly intimidating and icy when she spoke to him. She did not see why she should be patient and make sure he was confidant in his role. She was essentially a very poor supervisor.
I often floated past and chatted to him. I confessed that I had been at his wedding. He wondered how that had happened. One of my friends was a close friend of his wife. On the day of the wedding, my friend’s husband was ill, so she asked me to go along to the wedding in his place. So I did. After that I regularly stopped by for a chat and also chatted with his supervisor telling her how nice the wedding was and what a lovely family he came from. She respected me. She knew I was very good at my job, and she also knew that I had played on the hockey team at school, and that whenever we had played the hockey team of which she was a member from the school that she attended – we always won!
But she wore that man down. One Friday evening around five o’clock I saw him in tears at his desk. I knew why. The system had crashed for several hours earlier that day, so she insisted he would have to stay late to catch up with the work. I had heard him ring his wife to explain he was not going to be home on time. I approached him on my way past. I was aware that the manager of the department who was the superior to the scary supervisor was nearby. She noticed me strike up a conversation with the administrator.
Very quickly I came to the point and I did so in a tone loud enough for the manager to hear:
“She is going to make your life miserable. It is not worth it. I honestly think that for your own mental health you should get away as soon as you can. She does not deserve you. She is great at her own work and has respect from many in this company, but in her new role as supervisor it is very clear that she is not great with people. It’s your decision, but if I were you, I would find another job.”
He thanked me. I don’t normally get involved in anything remotely like “office politics”, but I felt that this guy was being pushed towards a break-down by his scary supervisor, so I intervened. I could see the huge sense of relief that came from over him and a weight lift from his shoulders. I went back to my desk to get my coat and bag to head home. I was extremely gratified to overhear the manager approach him and tell him that she did not want him to stay late on a Friday evening doing overtime. He should be with his wife at home. The manager said she would explain to his supervisor that she had told him to go home.
On the following Monday he handed in his resignation letter. He told me later that over the weekend his former manager, at the company he had worked at previously, had called him to ask him to come back to the company but on a much higher salary. He had jumped at the chance. I was so pleased for him. He was soon gone and I hope he never looked back.
The scary supervisor repeated her mistakes over and over. Her work was excellent. Her poor people skills, her impatience with new staff and her demanding, overbearing, intimidating manner of communicating meant that she was one of the names that were put forward to meet the quota for redundancies. She was soon gone…and I hope for her own sake, she learnt to be a bit more empathetic when she was a new member of staff at the company she went to work for, and had to be trained by her new supervisor.
My head is not great with fiction. And I have given so much attention to my Annabelle Riley story, I was struggling to think of a another story. So instead I thought I would use the picture prompt to explain how I feel whenever I visit historical buildings or sites.
This was the picture prompt I was tagged to TELL THE STORY with:
I imagine what it must have been like when these places had people dwelling within them. Living, working, resting. I wonder what kind of clothes they would have worn, what kind of food they would have eaten. I imagine the whole range of human emotion and activity.
Amongst the oldest of penned stories and accounts, are tales of love, victory, jealousy and anger. Humans have not really changed. We still have the same feelings as people who lived their lives hundreds of years ago, thousands of years ago.
When I go to The British Museum especially, I see the remnants of mighty empires, and it always strikes me that these civilisations essentially crumbled. They became more “successful” in a material way, and began to enjoy more and more luxuries. But then immorality and corruption began to breed.
Family life broke down. Love turned cold. These once mighty empires crumbled within.
One of the most important lessons humans need to learn from history is to never let love grow cold. For when love is scarce, we humans crumble. Families shatter, communities segregate, populations suffer, once mighty empires crumble.
“Family is the oldest human institution. In many ways it is the most important. It is society’s most basic unit. Entire civilizations have survived or disappeared, depending on whether family life was strong or weak” – The World Book Encyclopedia (1973)
When I walk amongst the ruins of the past…I think of all the people who once loved within those walls. Love used to live there. Yet love is no longer there.
Well…I am going to continue the TELL THE STORY challenge by nominating three other bloggers and providing a picture I hope you find inspirational:
The picture prompt in Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge this week is the same as the one I wrote a little flash fiction post to a couple of months ago. So here is is again, just in case you missed it.
Through the school she would float. Flint-like face, devoid of expression. Steely gaze always looking ahead, never distracted by the boisterous actions of her fellow students. Heart and mind locked away from every other. She would sit in class silently and turn in Grade A assignments. There was no fault to her work. But there was no spark of life, no warmth in her manners, no colour in her cheeks. Cut off from all around her, through school she would float.
At the age of sixteen she left school with top exam results. That summer she started walking. She was no longer floating. It is impossible to float down rugged paths and rocky trails. She walked and walked mile after mile. No boisterous actions around her, just peace, serenity. The forest breathing in time with her heartbeat. Something entered her being and began to unlock her heart and mind. Gentle and careful at first, only manifest by the occasional tear which would escape from her eye-lid as she was walking.
Nobody said anything, there was nothing to say. She never uttered a word to another soul. But one day after one of her long walks, she entered a local cafe, quaint and quiet with a small bouquet on every table. She sat in the deepest corner of the cafe facing the wall, rather than the other tables. She ordered a soya cappuccino from the waitress, who promptly delivered it to her table. She pulled out a notebook from her rucksack and began to write.
It all came out, one word at a time.
So I have to choose three other bloggers now and tag them to write a story based on the photo I have chosen:
Although there is no obligation to participate, so no worries to those who are busy with other projects they are working on, the three bloggers I am tagging (although anyone is more than welcome to use the photo if it appeals to them) for the TELL THE STORY Challenge are:
I am going to admit, the photo prompt that Rory gave me frightened the living daylights out of me! You can click onto Rory’s post to see the photo if you like, but it scared me too much to use the whole thing. So I have cropped it and am just using a less scary part of the photo! The photo prompt is directly under the title and I have thrown in a few extras just to brighten up my story.
He Said He Loves My Femininity
I was so self-conscious as I sat opposite him. I kept looking down at the table and then sipping the cocktail slowly. I was too embarrassed to make eye contact with him. He looked as if he wanted to gobble me up. I could not bare the way he had looked me up and down when I walked into the bar earlier in the evening.
He told me he likes that I am “all woman”. What on earth is that supposed to mean? I thanked him before I started pondering what he meant. He asked me what bra size I take! I was mortified with embarrassment. Could he possibly have made himself seem any more like a creep??? I said I am not really sure right now as I have not had a proper fitting for three years so I am probably wearing the wrong size underwear. I think my Dad would have told me to leave at that point.
When it came to ordering food, I chose a very light starter and told him I was not hungry. I had completely lost my appetite once he started making such embarrassing personal comments. He commented that it must take a lot of discipline to keep myself in such great shape. That’s when I started to feel sick. I started fidgeting with every item on the table, and straightening the place settings and napkin.
He started telling me that his mother was in and out of hospital when he was a very young child, so he has always felt he missed out on the natural closeness most children have with their mothers. He said that he had always looked for a woman who had a motherly character. I sat there hearing what he had to say in horror, wondering why he was telling me at this point that he has “mummy issues”, and praying silently “oh ground, please open up and swallow me whole”!
He reached his arm across the table and took my hand in his and said to me: “I love your femininity.” With that I had to excuse myself from the table and I rushed towards the ladies. I was so sick!
I am blaming Goldfinch!
I have spent a year in love and I know I am glowing. I know it and it is annoying. I know I am womanly and feminine, gentle, soft-spoken, graceful, mild, just like my mother. After I was attacked, I was prickly, hostile, stern and cold. But Goldfinch made all of that melt away and with him I started to glow again.
It’s a scary place to be. I don’t want to be told I am feminine and womanly by other men. I want to be safely wrapped up in Goldfinch’s arms away from anyone else.
Alright I will admit, I find it hard to write flash-fiction when I have so many stories from my life that I can write about. For those who were inquisitive about the two dates I have been on since Goldfinch left, this post may help you to envision why it was I ended up being sick on my first date. The second date was not much better.
So this is the photo I am giving to my nominees for the TELL THE STORY Challenge:
Now I know there are lot of these TELL THE STORY Challenges floating around and I do not know who is participating in them, and who has had too many nominations already. So I don’t want anyone to feel any obligation especially if the do not feel inspired by the photo. The three bloggers I am going to nominate are:
Here is another little piece of flash fiction for you. You are probably going to realize very soon why I normally stay clear of making up stories because I have no idea where I was going with this one.
I was nominated for the TELL THE STORY Challenge by bereavedandbeingasingleparent, as you can see from his post below. The photo he gave me is the one directly below the title – that is my prompt, but because my story is a tad long, I am going to throw a couple more in to brighten this post up.
There are days that I feel as if our games teachers should be working in a state prison. It’s frrrrrreeeeeeezing cold February, a chilled blast of wind rushing at you every few seconds, frost coating every blade of grass and adorning every spider’s web. Don’t you think on a day like today – we should be allowed to have our games lesson indoors in the school gym.
But oh no! Miss Forster with that booming voice and shrill whistle shrieking at us in the changing rooms to hurry up and change into our athletics shirts and gym knickers and trainers and queue up outside the doors that lead over to the school’s outside sports courts and pitches.
“But Miss…it’s too cold for cross-country today!”
“Nonsense! It’s the perfect conditions for running.”
The only good thing about the sports field today was that the ground was hard and compact. I have endured too many cross-country circuits where we were all slipping and sliding through the mud and could barely stay on our feet. There was something about the fiercely cold wind that made me run faster than I had before. I think all of us girls were running faster than usual, and Miss Forster had a sadistic look of triumph across her face as she cheered us on whilst gripping her stop-watch tightly.
As I was running past the tennis courts for my last lap around the fields, I noticed that funny girl Emily who was in her uniform with her school coat on. Emily kept to herself, she didn’t seem to want to join in with anyone else. Emily always had a sick note for physical education, she never seemed to take part in games lessons. She didn’t play any sports or do any athletics or running. She just sat or stood whilst everyone else had to take part.
Emily was staring out through the frosted tennis court mesh fencing at the fields beyond. She had her hands wrapped around some of the frosty sections of the mesh fence and it looked as if she was about to hoist herself up to climb. She did! I wondered what she was doing! I saw Emily slowly crawl up to the top of the tennis court fencing which was probably a good ten feet high. Then she swung her legs over the top of the fencing and dropped down to the other side.
And then I saw something I had never seen before. Emily Rogers began to run. She did not look back, I could see her powerful strides as she galloped across that field as if her life depended on it. I have to admit there was something inspirational about witnessing Emily’s escape. Every single one of us girls were feeling hard-pressed to be made to run around the school sports fields in our gym-knickers. We would have loved to escape, but it was Emily who had done it. Emily Rogers who nobody had ever sen run before…she was now fleeing as fast as her legs could take her.
She was on the other side of the first field when one of the girls I was running with started yelling at Miss Forster:
“Miss, Miss! Emily Rogers is on the run!”
So now it is my turn to tag three other bloggers to take part in the TELL THE STORY Challenge. This is the photo I am providing – it is a plunge pool from the ancient Roman spa baths in the English city of Bath.
I know there are a lot of TELL THE STORY Challenge tags doing the rounds, so please don’t feel obligated if the photo does not inspire you or if you have lots of other projects you want to work on instead. The three bloggers I am tagging today are:
Kristian, the creator of Life Lessons From Around the Dinner Table, has tagged me to take part in The TELL THE STORY Challenge. As far as I understand I am able to think up any fictional story in response to the photo prompt that Kristian has sent me. Have a look at Kristian’s post below to see her own story:
Holidays with a bunch of friends are always fun, but my summer holiday last year was one of the best I have had. We went to Mexico!!
Our friend Janet had just become engaged to be married. We wanted to spoil her so much. Janet has always been a bit on the quiet side and we were determined to drag her into the party spirit. But Janet evaded our efforts by calling her fiancé every evening after dinner so she could tell him about all the sites we had seen during the day. Oh those in love – so blinkered to the rest of the world!
So that left Lauren and her fourteen year old daughter Rachael, and Joanne and her eleven year old son Toby. We had to make sure that every venue we went to was suitable for children, but we still found some fantastic places to have a dance, compete in team quizzes, and Lauren was even called up onto the stage by a ventriloquist to take part in his act.
But the last night of the holiday, we did not have time to go out anywhere. Our bus to the airport was due to arrive at the hotel at 10pm. So we just chose to have dinner within the hotel and then lollop in the lounge area with a suitcases nearby.
All of a sudden we heard a man’s voice announcing the start of a karaoke contest to be held in the stage near the swimming pool area that evening. Then came a few beats of a familiar tune, made famous by the British band Right Said Fred. You may recognize the song:
We looked out over the balcony towards the pool area and viewed the hotel manager on stage. His dire droning was almost disturbing to listen to, but in another sense, I wanted to cheer him for his bravery. However, there were only a few people sitting at tables around the pool and they looked as if they were dismayed at his singing and were going to leave.
Joanne whispered to me, “This is your fault!”
She was right. The hotel manager had joined us for a drink one evening and he had asked what we thought of the entertainment the hotel provided. My reply was “diabolical”. I explained that it was not suitable for families with children, and there was nothing that encouraged the holiday makers to join in the fun. I had made a few suggestions that I was convinced British holiday makers would enjoy and I told him that karaoke would probably be the best option. So he had taken my word and advertised a karaoke contest.
Some of the waiters approached us and asked us to go and support the karaoke. Lauren and Joanne said I was obligated to, since this was my suggestion. Two of the waiters even grabbed my hands and started to pull me towards the staircase that led down to the pool area.
Once the microphone was in my hand, all my reservations and reluctance, all my insecurities and inhibitions – they all melted away. I was loving every moment! There is something about a karaoke microphone that makes all my worries fade far from my mind.
I started the night with my favourite karaoke song:
As every karaoke enthusiast will confirm, it’s not the quality of your voice that matters when you take the microphone into your hands – it is the enjoyment level that matters. How much are you enjoying yourself? Are your audience enjoying watching you?
That was the perfect way to end our dream summer holiday in Mexico. The entire pool area packed with crowds of holiday makers all cheering me on, as I warbled and shrieked for the rest of the evening. After I had finished one song they would erupt into celebrations, and then start stamping their feet and chanting: “More, more, more, more.”
How could I fail to oblige their requests? I sang and sang until my voice was quite hoarse, but I was still enjoying myself, swinging my hips and waving my arms and getting the crowds to join in for each chorus. They forgave all of my off-tune moments and rejoiced when I tried to hold my breath long enough to match the note in the song.
It all ended when my friends started waving urgently from the balcony, and the hotel manager yelled to me that the bus to the airport had arrived. The crowds moaned as I made my way off the stage and ran towards the stairs up to the balcony and foyer area.
“Party’s over Senorita!” the hotel manager called out into the microphone, “please come back next summer!”
Now I believe I am supposed to supply a photograph and tag three bloggers to write a story based on the picture???
Well, here is the photo:
Who should I tag??? Oooooooh decisions, decisions!!! This is the part so many of us find hard.
There are so many great story-tellers out there, so I am going to tag three bloggers, but if anyone else wants to tell a story, please feel free to do so 🙂